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October 8, 2000

Tempts and Trolls

Dear Friends:

I've had a day filled with T's: the Taiwan national day parade in Chinatown, the Temptations at Taste of DC, and a troll attacking themail subscribers. The parade and Motown memories were great fun; the troll wasn't. For those of you who aren't Internet veterans, the concepts of trolling and flaming may be new, and those of you who are veterans may not have thought about them for a few years. In the prehistoric days of the net, when newsgroups and E-mail lists were first becoming widely popular, some mildly disturbed surfers got their fun from sending hostile, threatening, or obscene messages to the lists. The perpetrators of these unfunny attacks were called trolls, and their messages were called flames. Flaming got so bad on some lists that they were actually discontinued; an E-mail list about cats was one of the famous victims of a group of trollers who selected it seemingly at random.

I apologize to members of themail who got these hostile messages. Trolling is fairly rare today, compared with a few years ago. But when and if it happens to you, the best defense is to ignore the flames and not to reply to them. Trolling isn't any fun if it doesn't provoke an outraged reaction, and silence is a good fire extinguisher. If the flaming continues, and if you find the messages really objectionable, report them to the troll's Internet service provider. In the meantime, if the flames upset you, put on a Temptations album. That'll cheer you up.

I'm very surprised that no one commented, either positively or negatively, on the premiere episode of “The District.” Speaking of crime in DC, as I edit this issue of themail I'm watching “Charlie Chan in the Secret Service,” also set in Washington, in which the following exchange occurs: Mrs. Hargue, a suspect, says, “Murder? People in Washington don't go about murdering,” to which Charlie Chan replies, "Evidently, few present have forgotten rules."

Gary Imhoff


NE Building Project — Giant/Kmart/Home Depot
S. Donna Hugh,

[An open letter to Councilmembers:] I am a long time DC resident, and a 20 year resident of Ward 5; I commute to and from work on the roads in the exact area of the newly designated “wonderful [commercial] opportunity” — to wit, Brentwood Road. While I remain cautiously joyous about these opportunities, I am and will continue to be EXTREMELY concerned about the traffic in this area. It is already a problem area due to the tiny Brentwood shopping center and the vehicle impound lot; I pledge to you right now that I will follow and be vocal about the plans for this area. And oh, by the way . . . when will the citizenry hear about the plans?


Quadrangle and The WestPark, 2130 P Street, N.W.
Ann Van Aken,

Robert Gladstone is the proud founder and CEO of Quadrangle, which manages the apartment community of The WestPark at 2130 P Street, N.W., albeit with mystifying practices. During the past year, many issues have been raised, and only after much hemming and hawing has Quadrangle grudgingly resolved some and ignored others completely while plying their trade. Quadrangle was questioned about the illegal practice of charging a “surcharge” for anyone who requested a short-term lease of three months; a “surcharge” that continued for another seventeen months without respite. With no legal way out of it, Quadrangle reluctantly refunded the money after it was brought to their attention.

In 1998, the FCC ruled that satellite dishes were allowed in apartment communities as long as they were not mounted to common areas. Despite this ruling (which was not discovered until late 1999 by a resident), satellite dishes were not allowed on the balconies at The WestPark, even though the terms of the lease covers the entire apartment, including the balcony. When this FCC ruling was presented to Quadrangle, Quadrangle responded with an attempt to make its own policy regarding satellite dishes. When confronted directly by personnel from the FCC in response to a resident's inquiry, Quadrangle backed down and allowed satellite dishes, but on the condition that management had to approve professional installation.

Quadrangle also reverses decisions concerning security deposits at its whim. One resident, who after vacating an apartment was told that there was damage and repairs would be deducted from the security deposit, and who also protested this reprisal vigorously, was refunded the entire security deposit with no explanation. This resident is having trouble gaining access to a new apartment because Quadrangle reports that the resident damaged the apartment, despite having refunded the entire security deposit! Quadrangle should be a leader in the community — but alas! it falls mightily short and lacks the redeeming qualities never found in a corporation anyway. With all the hoopla about Robert Gladstone's developments in the Washington, D.C., area, not to mention his starring role in the powerful Federal City Council, shouldn't there be more of an accounting on Quadrangle's part?


Quadrangle Development
Nancy Fiedler,

Last Thursday, readers of the Washington Post Metro section learned that two large property management companies, Borger Management and William Calormiris Investment Corp., were fined $540, 000 for failing to warn tenants about the presence of lead-based paint in their units. What the Post did not cover, however, was how two companies affiliated with Quadrangle Development, the huge and powerful creation of The Federal City Council's Robert Gladstone, managed to walk away from fines of almost $600,000 each.

A provision of the 1992 law requiring sellers and landlords of housing built after 1975 to disclose the presence of lead-based paint to buyers and/or tenants allows a landlord to “self disclose” to the EPA and thus avoid any fines as long as the disclosure is made before anyone else reports the violation. 2130 P Associates and QDC Property Management, Inc., sat for years on a study which revealed the presence of the paint in individual units and common areas of The Westpark, at 2130 P St., NW. In fact, they commissioned a second, slightly less damning study, but failed to notify the EPA until October 22, 1999, shortly after a tenant association formed on October 9, 1999.

Within that same time frame, another Quadrangle affiliate worked with the EPA and actually received an award for good environmental practices. Quadrangle and its affiliates have had many prestigious law firms on retainer, and Quadrangle has an in-house legal staff, including Mr. Gladstone's daughter-in-law, Elise Rabekoff, Quadrangle's General Counsel. Robert Gladstone has undergraduate degrees in architecture and engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. 2130 P St. was built by Mr. Gladstone. With this wealth of scientific, legal, and property management expertise, Quadrangle's claims of total ignorance of the EPA's lead-based paint rules seem odd, particularly since on- and off-line publications for the housing industry were flooded with articles explaining a landlord's obligation to disclose to tenants.

Of course, this is not the first time QDC has displayed a dewy-eyed innocence of the regulatory process. In 1997, at a time when balconies were collapsing all over the D.C. area with disastrous results, QDC undertook a massive balcony repair project at 2130 P St. with no permit whatsoever. In that instance, the DCRA Office of Adjudication found QDC liable and stated that, “It is additionally inconceivable to the Attorney Examiner that neither the Respondent nor the contractor knew that a permit was required.”


How to Fix Your High School
Ed T. Barron,

That's the title of a six-page article in the 9 October issue of U.S. News and World Report. The article describes the success in rescuing five different high schools, including some in inner city locations. Each of these schools has been successful in getting great performance from their students and each has used a variety of different techniques and processes to result in those successes. One of the few common themes in these disparate schools is that they break the school into smaller parts called learning communities. Teachers, in some of the schools act as counselors and meet very regularly, one-on-one, with each of the 20 students that they counsel. In one of the schools an adult is assigned to each student to act as a mentor.

The other most common theme (save for the school that has assigned adult mentors) is that there is considerable parent involvement in the educational process. That alone makes an incredible difference, and is probably the hardest thing to replace in the lowest performing schools here in the District. The cultural bias that does not recognize the importance of a good education precludes and obviates many efforts to achieve a good learning environment in many of the schools in D.C. I have not figured out just how to change this cultural bias that demeans a good education, and my only suggestion is to follow the example of the school that has found adult mentors for each of the students in their school.

[This article and links to related articles from US News and World Report are posted at — Gary Imhoff]


Make Money at Home with a Computer
E. James Lieberman,

Advertising posters from “ money at home with a computer” are popping out annoyingly. Does anyone know who these people are and what right they have to visually pollute our streets?


“Trick-or-Treating” in DC?
Joan Eisenstodt,

Does anyone know what the date/time is for official neighborhood trick-or-treating in the District?


What’s in a Name?
Steph “Not the REAL steph” Faul,

For those friends who have expressed privacy concerns about signing up for a grocery store discount card: there is no requirement that you use your real name or address. Or anybody's real name or address for that matter. Have some fun with it! Get a card for Alferd Packer or Hannibal Lecter, or shop with the stars by signing up as Mae West, Dorothy Lamour, or Kingsley Kong. Pay with cash and they'll never know it was you who bought a bunch of bananas and three bottles of Nair.


The Fountain of Youth
Ed T. Barron,

Progress on the new fountain at the entrance of the AU Law School Building (48th Street and Massachusetts Avenue) is plodding along with about 70% of that work completed. The rest of the renovation of the front of the building, which includes a plaza with tables and chairs for the smokers and eaters, is completed. Landscaping is in, except for the fountain area, and that looks quite nice. Can't wait for the first eruption of the fountain so that I can throw my three coins in.


No Need to Cross the River for Hardware!
Jerry A. McCoy, Silver Spring Historical Society,

I'd like to suggest to Mr. Barron that instead of driving 15.3 miles from his Spring Valley-area home to Lowes in Alexandria (or to anyone else living in upper NW DC who needs to purchase hardware), that he can drive less than half that distance (6.8 miles) to the recently opened Strosniders Hardware Store in downtown Silver Spring (815 Wayne Avenue). Plenty of free parking and a nice pastoral drive across Rock Creek Park. Check the Silver Spring Historical Society web site for photographs of the Grand Opening:


Postal Service
John Olinger, North Lincoln Park,

In response to Paul Penniman's note on postal service, we had similar problems with mail delivery on our block for a decade at least. Typically, we got no mail for a number of days and then got tons of mail on one day, often we got two or three issues of a weekly paper at once, or we got our mail and the mail of the next three or four houses on the block. Calls to the post office yielded no results, just feeble explanations: “no one wants your route,” or “you wouldn't believe the people I have to supervise, some of them can't read.” Happily a little over a year ago, when I called the main number for DC, I was referred to a postal ombudsman. Since she got on the case, mail delivery has improved significantly. We still have periodic problems, but they are rare and, after a phone call to the ombudsman, things are rectified. It is a great improvement. I wish there were such a position in DC government, which I find to be as befogged as before.


Not So Thrifty or Trusty Car Rental
Sharon Cochran,

I have to echo David Sobelsons frustrating and expensive experience with the Thrifty Car Rental at 12th and K Street, NW. I didn't even want a cassette deck, just a compact car. Last summer, I had made advance reservations for a compact car. When I got to the rental lot, I was told that the only car that they had left was this pocked marked gray car that looked like it had spent the week in Gaza. It even had a missing hub cap. Of course you don't see this car until after you have spent an hour waiting in line and filling out the forms. When I complained, I was told that the car was actually an upgrade and to take it or leave it. I travel a lot for my job and rent cars often. This is not typical behavior for rental car companies. I have not gone back to the 12th and K Street Thrifty.


Just Say Yes to Censorship?
M Treistman,

I am completely surprised by several responses to the posting of Smith's abrasive missive. (See October 4.) Kudos to Gary for posting it, especially as it was focused against his commentary. To those who feel that themail has sunk to a new low or that their time was wasted, I would remind them of two things. First, the First Amendment; and its loosely interpreted corollary that if you don't like what someone else has to say/write then don't listen/read. Second, a quote from Oliver Wendell Homes, “We should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expressions of opinions we loathe.”


Would That DC Were a Farm
Len Sullivan,

Successful farmers keep very close tabs on where their costs go compared to the yields they get, and choose their crops and tailor their parcels accordingly. If DC was the “Williams Farm” it would have to consider the productivity of its “fields” and its “livestock,” decide what kind of agribusiness it wants to be in, and join a co-op to enhance success. DC faces any number of economic challenges, but it surely isn't clear it's headed for a ubumper crop.” These challenges are developed and spelled out in the October update of the NARPAC web site at Civil city slickers welcome.



DC History Event
Matthew Gilmore,

The Latrobe Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians will host a tour of historic Alexandria by William Seale, historian and specialist in historic restoration, on Sunday, October 15, at 1:00 p.m. For more information on reservations and cost, please call 332-2446 during office hours.


Fall Clothing Sale at Ingleside Presbyterian Retirement Community
Nicholas Kesari, ckesari1@aol

On Saturday, October 15, we will be having our fall clothing sale from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. We have many beautiful clothes for men, women, and children, including some designer clothes. Come early for the best selection. Ingleside at Rock Creek, 3050 Military Road N.W.



Good Home Sought for Shelving Unit
Sid Booth,

A Danish Modern shelving unit which has provided us decades of useful service is available for a ridiculously low cost to someone who will provide an appreciative home environment for this old family friend. The unit was purchased new from Scan Furniture well before the turn of the millennium. The unit consists of two handsome, slender but sturdy black metal support poles, nine-feet long, matching brackets and shelf hardware, and three (four if I can find it) three-foot wide teak-trimmed wooden shelves. Best offer to or call 483-5409 before 9 pm.


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